Bedhampton community centre manager teaches phrases in British Sign Language through online videos

GAINING a new skill is top of most people’s agenda at the moment - and one woman is making learning some sign language each day a lot easier.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 10:59 am
Updated Sunday, 29th March 2020, 9:24 pm

By posting a short tutorial each day, Caroline Setford is helping people online to learn some phrases in British Sign Language - starting with Bedhampton Community Centre, where she is the manager.

As the centre is closed and 36-year-old Caroline is self-isolating at home, she wanted to use one of her skills to help others stay engaged.

She said: ‘It’s to keep people’s spirits up, to keep them focused and interested. Now’s a really good time to learn a new skill and try it out with other people.

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Caroline Setford, manager at Bedhampton Community Centre, has been teaching short online videos of British Sign Language to entertain people in self-isolation. Pictured: Caroline and her husband Richard at their wedding signing 'cheese' to their deaf friend taking the photo

‘Doing it every day means people will come back and look for more things. I just want people to feel like although we are sitting alone, we’re not alone.’

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After the first video had more than 800 views on the Bedhampton Community Centre Facebook page, Caroline took a request from a viewer to teach signs for essential food items like bread, potatoes - and cake.

Before working at the community centre, Caroline was a sign language interpreter for 10 years.

Caroline Setford, manager at Bedhampton Community Centre, has been teaching short online videos of British Sign Language to entertain people in self-isolation

As a young child watching Happy Days, she was fascinated by an episode where The Fonz learned how to sign ‘happy birthday’ to his deaf girlfriend.

‘I thought it was amazing, we went to the library and got out all the books they had on sign language and I just absorbed it, I learned it, I loved it,’ she told The News.

When Caroline was 16, she went to college and did levels 1 and 2 in British Sign Language, before taking on a degree in the subject.

The Leigh Park resident said: ‘I really like that people are starting to request things because we’re getting that interaction.’

Although the community centre is closed to the public, it has become a hub for FoodBank Po9 and LunchBank Po9 which provide food to people in Leigh Park who need support.

Caroline said: ‘It’s just really nice that although we can’t do our usual job, we can still be useful. It would be sad if the centre was sat there doing nothing.’